Electric scooters abound in cities like Providence. Companies including Spin and VeoRide have made e-scooter rentals readily available to city-goers looking for a fast and economical ride to work, school, or just a fun ride around Rhode Island’s capital. Available on city streets for a nominal rental charge, they’ve been met with enthusiasm by some and controversy by others. This relatively new mode of transportation does have its shortcomings and Rhode Island Scooter Accident Lawyer David Tapalian has seen a number of locals hurt in electric scooter collisions. He cautions users to educate themselves prior to renting one, or allowing their teenager to do so.
E-scooter use tripled across the U.S., due largely in part to an influx of rental companies, from 2014 to 2018. During this time, over 39,000 people were injured in scooter accidents and more than 3,000 were admitted to the hospital. As rentals become more widespread, so do the injuries related to their use. There’s certainly a benefit to having a readily available, low-cost way to get around the city, especially to students. In fact, e-scooter usage is highest in the College Hill and downtown areas of Providence. However, the high rate of personal injury to users, specifically head injuries, is concerning. Many cities across the U.S. have been vocal about their uneasiness after experiencing a rise in injuries related to scooter accidents.Types of Scooter Injuries
Countless people are hurt riding e-scooters, particularly the novice riders. In fact, 1 in 3 injured riders are hurt on their first trip, according to a CDC study. Scooter injuries range from scrapes, bruises, and broken bones to life-threatening brain trauma and head injury. As a scooter accident attorney in Rhode Island, David Tapalian knows the most important, and easiest, step to safe riding is to wear a helmet. Those at biggest risk for a head injury are riders not wearing one. Shockingly, an estimated 90-95% of e-scooter users do not wear a helmet.
Reports show 40% of injured users suffer a head injury and 32% suffer broken bones or fractures. The remainder experience less severe injuries including sprains, cuts, and bruises.
Head injury: Helmets are key to preventing a head injury. Without a helmet, a fall to the asphalt or a collision with a motor vehicle can result in a concussion, permanent brain damage, and other serious head trauma. It can also be fatal.
Broken bones & fractures: Wrists, elbows, legs, ribs, collarbones, shoulders, and noses, are all typical sites for breaks and fractures.
Sprains, lacerations, & contusions: Cuts, bruises, and sprains can be relatively minor while some require stitches or more extensive medical treatment.
A UCLA study on electric scooter injuries found of those injured: 80% were hurt as a result of a fall, 11% from collisions with objects, and 9% from crashes with cars, bikes, or other scooters.
As a scooter accident lawyer in Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian has seen injured riders suffer serious injuries from a fall, or a collision with a car, truck, or SUV. Although data on e-scooter accidents and injuries in Rhode Island is limited at this time, a preliminary search shows reports of 20 e-scooter riders visiting Rhode Island hospitals during the four-month period from October 2018 to January 2019. Lifespan Hospital noted this was “roughly the time in which the Bird and Lime scooters… were made available in Providence.” The hospitals, however, are unable to determine if these injuries were from e-scooter rentals or privately owned scooters.Causes of Electric Scooter Accidents
Inexperience: The main cause of e-scooter accidents. An inexperienced rider is the biggest threat to themselves and others sharing the road in cars, on bicycles, or on foot. Before renting a scooter, potential users must be informed and knowledgeable of the operation and safety guidelines of the e-scooter rental company, and adhere to rules set out for scooter usage by the City of Providence including, but not limited to speed limit, where the scooters may ride, and safe parking.
Weather: Rain, snow, and ice, can all cause slippery conditions and be dangerous to scooter riders. Electric scooters should not be used in the snow or ice and users should operate extra caution in rain. We all know the weather fluctuates constantly in Rhode Island and Scooter Injury Attorney David Tapalian cannot stress enough the importance of wearing a helmet when riding an electric scooter at all times, even more so in adverse weather conditions.
Roads: Potholes, cracks in the sidewalk, or any type of uneven terrain, can create a treacherous situation for e-scooters. Riders must operate within the speed limit designated by the rental contract as well as the City of Providence’s scooter guidelines to avoid a potentially serious accident exacerbated by road conditions.
Other Vehicles: Cars, trucks, and SUV’s are a deadly danger to e-scooters. Whether the driver of a motor vehicle is negligent, reckless, or just truly does not see a rider, the ramifications can be deadly when a car collides with an electric scooter, especially if the person on the scooter is without a helmet.Pedestrians & Scooter Accidents
Renters of electric scooters are not the only ones that get hurt. Pedestrians are frequent victims of scooter injuries. Erratic driving on the sidewalk, swerving in and out of pedestrians or vehicles, and riding over the speed limit can all result in an unaware pedestrian getting hit by a scooter. Electric scooters left haphazardly on the sidewalk are also a tripping hazard to pedestrians, and those riding bikes, jogging, or pushing a baby stroller. A trip and fall can be critical, particularly to elderly victims and young children, and those hurt should consult a knowledgeable injury attorney right away.Electric Scooters in Rhode Island
The City of Providence has established its own set of guidelines for electric scooter use, as outlined in the city’s E-Scooter Share Program. Rules vary by company, but most rental companies require renters to be 18 or older and have a valid driver’s license or municipal ID. Each city also has its own rules- for example, Providence allows e-scooters on sidewalks, while a number of other cities do not allow use on a sidewalk. As the E-Scooter Share Program in Providence is still in its infancy, guidelines are subject to change as the city gains more input and experience from the program.
Although helmets are not required by law for scooter renters in Rhode Island, they are strongly recommended by each rental company and the City.
E-Scooter Riding & Parking Rules in RI
- May be operated on sidewalks, or in the roadway
- Go slow and yield to pedestrians on sidewalks
- Traffic laws apply and must be obeyed on the roadway or in a bike lane (i.e. stop at stop signs and traffic lights, etc.)
- Ride no more than two abreast
- Only one person is permitted on the scooter at a time
- May not be parked in a location that impedes a pedestrian walkway
- Must be parked upright near the sidewalk curb, leaving at least 4 feet for pedestrians to get by
- Do not block fire hydrants, driveways, crosswalks, building entrances, curb ramps, bus stops, parking meters, benches, or shared use paths
- No parking on private property or in a vehicle or bicycle travel lane
If you are injured in an electric scooter collision, determining who is liable depends on who is at fault for the crash.
Hurt in a Scooter Accident in Providence
- If you get hit by a car… while riding an e-scooter, the driver of the vehicle who hit you may be liable for your damages through their auto insurance coverage. If the at-fault motorist is uninsured, or under-insured, there are still a number of ways a skilled personal injury lawyer can seek compensation for your expenses.
- If you are a pedestrian… hit by a person riding an e-scooter, you may be able to hold the scooter operator responsible for your losses. A claim for damages may be filed with their personal insurance company. If the person at-fault does not have insurance, or is under-insured, you may be able to seek damages through your own insurance company’s policy, depending on your coverage.
- If you hit a pothole… while operating an e-scooter and can successfully demonstrate proof that you were riding responsibility, obeying traffic laws and safety guidelines, driving the speed limit, and can provide evidence that the crash was caused by a physical defect in the road, such as a pothole or crack in the pavement, that the city was aware of, or reasonably should have been, you may be eligible to file a claim for your damages.
- If you are hurt by a scooter defect/malfunction… the rental company may be liable for your injuries if you are able to demonstrate viable proof that the defect or malfunction was directly responsible for your harm. Substantial proof is key, as these particular types of claims can be difficult to substantiate.
- If you trip over a scooter... getting injured indirectly as a pedestrian- for example, an unaccompanied scooter is left in the middle of the sidewalk and you trip and fall over it- you may have a claim for your losses with the rental company who owns it.
- If you are hurt… and not sure who is responsible, or how to go about getting compensation for your losses, contact an experienced scooter injury attorney for expert legal guidance.
As with most cities that host the new form of transportation, applicants like Spin and VeoRide are required to agree to an indemnification agreement determining the liability of each party. In this case, to hold the City of Providence “harmless”, so the city is not responsible for damages related to the e-scooters. The companies also agree to provide the city with a general liability insurance policy and an endowment fund, per scooter, to reimburse the city for any necessary repair or maintenance fees.Contact Tapalian Law After Your Rhode Island Accident
If you are hurt in scooter crash, as a rider or pedestrian, seek immediate medical attention. If another person or vehicle is involved and you are safely able, get information including license plate number, make/model of vehicle, driver’s license, take photos of the accident scene, and contact the police to file a report. If you are renting the scooter, you must also inform the rental company of the incident. Then, seek the advice of a top-rated Providence personal injury lawyer at Tapalian Law to protect your legal rights. If another person is responsible for your injuries, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other related expenses. There is a three-year statute of limitations in Rhode Island in which to file a personal injury claim, so don’t wait to seek professional legal advice after your accident. Call Tapalian Law today at 401-552-5000, or use our easy, online form to contact us.